Tag Archives: Microsoft Security Essentials

Windows Vista’s market share is growing. After seeing 8.1, I know why

I installed Windows Vista last week. I need a legal copy of a supported version of Windows to use to VPN in to work and run the corporate Citrix client. Vista fit the bill. It’s better than 8.1, and it’s supported until April 2017. I always hated Vista, but 8 and 8.1 made me realize it could have been a lot worse, and on recent hardware Vista does OK. It still prompts you for admin rights too much and too slowly and makes you work too hard to click yes, but at least you can find stuff. Continue reading Windows Vista’s market share is growing. After seeing 8.1, I know why

Things to do for your relatives’ computers this Christmas

I wish I’d posted this last week, since many of us see one set of relatives at Thanksgiving and a different set at Christmas (and perhaps New Year’s). Here are things you can do as preventative maintenance for relatives whose computers could use a little help. Continue reading Things to do for your relatives’ computers this Christmas

Give your antivirus software a workout

Via PC Magazine, I found the AMTSO website, which is designed to test your antivirus software for proper operation. I think this is good for two reasons. One, it gives you a chance to see if antivirus software is operating properly. Two, it gives you a chance to see how your browser and antivirus software behave when something bad is going on. Continue reading Give your antivirus software a workout

This “Computer Maintenance Department” sure doesn’t know much about computer maintenance

“Peggy” from “Computer Maintenance Department” (1-645-781-2458 on my caller ID) called again. Lots of people are aware of these phone calls. They call, make vague claims about receiving a report that your computer is running slow and giving you errors, and are very careful not to say who they are or who they work for. Usually I just do whatever I can to get them off the phone.

But after having lunch with some other computer security professionals last week, a couple of them talked me into finding out how these guys operate. So I fired up a PC that turned out to have a real, legitimate issue. After resolving that issue myself, I turned the caller loose on my semi-functional PC so I could see what these scammers actually do. He had me connect to Teamviewer.com and run their remote access software. I followed his instructions, watched him connect, then slyly unplugged my network cable.

When my network connection dropped, “Peggy” quickly transferred me to a “senior technician” who used the name “Roy.” Continue reading This “Computer Maintenance Department” sure doesn’t know much about computer maintenance

Antivirus progress

When Microsoft Security Essentials first came out, it was an improvement in antivirus performance. Now, it’s middle of the pack, according to PC Magazine. That’s great. Vendors are finally taking performance seriously.

What that means is that by replacing MSE with F-Secure Anti-Virus 2013, Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2013), Sophos Anti-Virus 10.2, ESET NOD32 Antivirus 6, Norton Antivirus (2013), Avast Free Antivirus 8, or Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2013, you can speed up your computer. Considering Norton Antivirus was once bottom-of-the-barrel in the performance arena, I see this as a good thing.

Of the bunch, Avast is the only freebie. Though if your ISP offers one of the others as part of your subscription, or you don’t mind paying for antivirus, the others are an option. But maybe, just maybe, if I replace Microsoft Security Essentials with Avast, Peggy will quit calling me at dinnertime and telling me my computer is slow. But I doubt it. Continue reading Antivirus progress

Some computer maintenance for the upcoming family get-togethers

If you’re like me and do some computer maintenance for families during holiday weekends, the time to plan Easter computer maintenance is now.

Here’s some stuff I recommend doing to keep your non-computer-enthusiast relatives’ systems running smoothly. Be sure to bring your own laptop along, just in case. If a computer is too broken to get online or to get online safely, nothing beats a working system for downloading the stuff you need to fix it. Continue reading Some computer maintenance for the upcoming family get-togethers

The best free antivirus

I’ve been re-evaluating free antivirus programs. I think Microsoft Security Essentials is adequate if you don’t engage in risky behavior, and it doesn’t nag and doesn’t expire, both of which are good things. The best detection in the world is no good to you the day after it expires.

If you want something better, the place to look is AV-Comparative’s most recent test. In that roundup, I see four serious contenders: Bitdefender, Avira, Avast, and AVG. Those are the only four programs available for free that passed all of their tests with at least one star. Continue reading The best free antivirus

The men (boys) who spy on women through webcams

Ars Technica made a bit of a splash this week with this provocative headline. This is real.

The article gives the usual advice, like not opening e-mail from strangers, not clicking attachments from strangers, and not visiting dodgy websites. That’s all good advice, as is staying off torrent and other file sharing sites, but even all that is not enough.
Continue reading The men (boys) who spy on women through webcams

How to save money on tech

CNN offered up some good tips on saving money on tech. But of course I want to analyze and comment on it myself. Anything else would be out of character.

Continue reading How to save money on tech

What to make of this Black Friday’s sub-$200 laptops

It’s still a couple of weeks off, but we already know two retailers will be offering sub-$200 laptops on the day the United States gorges itself on bargains.

The question is, what do you get for your $200 on these minimalist laptops? I’ll answer those questions, then you can decide whether they’re worth $200 and braving the crowds, the weird hours, and likely the cold. (Yes, there are costs beyond the money you spend.) Continue reading What to make of this Black Friday’s sub-$200 laptops